Statue of Black Lives Matter protestor removed from Bristol’s Edward Colston plinth

The statue of protestor Jen Reid was removed by Bristol City Council early Thursday morning (July 16)

The new sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protestor erected in Bristol on the plinth which once held a statue of slave trader Edward Colston has been removed by the city’s council.

The statue, entitled ‘A Surge Of Power (Jen Reid) 2020’, was installed early yesterday morning (July 15), before being removed in the early hours of this morning.

It depicts protester Jen Reid, who was photographed on the day Colston’s statue was torn down and thrown in the harbour by protesters at an anti-racism march back in June, standing atop the plinth and raising her fist.

Confirming that the statue has been removed, a spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “This morning we removed the sculpture. It will be held at our museum for the artist to collect or donate to our collection.”

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees added: “I understand people want expression, but the statue has been put up without permission.

“Anything put on the plinth outside of the process we’ve put in place will have to be removed.”

The new statue was organised by a team led by artist Marc Quinn. As the statue was put up yesterday, Reid raised her fist once again in front of the new statue and a placard labelled “black lives still matter” was placed in front.

As the Guardian reports, Reid and Quinn had been secretly planning the installation for weeks, and it came as a complete surprise to the authorities, who had yet to announce a plan for the empty space once held by Colston’s statue.

Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter protestor Jen Reid poses for a photograph in front of a sculpture of herself, by local artist Marc Quinn, on the plinth where the Edward Colston statue used to stand on July 15, 2020 in Bristol, England. Credit: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

“It’s just incredible,” Reid said yesterday of the new statue. “That’s pretty fucking ballsy, that it is.”

Following the destruction of the Colston statue, famous Bristol venue Colston Hall said it was working to change its name, choosing a new one that will “reflect the unity and joy that experiencing live music together brings”.

Cultural figures from across Bristol and beyond have shared their thoughts on the presence of Colston in the city. Massive Attack said the statue “should never have been a public monument” while IDLES’ Joe Talbot told NME: “I need to explain [Bristol’s history] to my kids. How do you think it felt for Black parents to walk their kids past some fucking statue which basically ignores the massacre and the exploitation of their ancestors?”

The Streets’ Mike Skinner, meanwhile, says he regrets ever playing the Colston Hall, while Bristol City Poet Vanessa Kisuule wrote an exclusive essay for NME on the toppling of the Colston statue. “Edward Colston does not represent us,” she wrote.

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